James Essinger’s Writing Fiction is a user-friendly guide to, well, doing what it says on the tin. In twenty-four concise chapters, the author shepherds his readers through the writing process, breaking it down into easy, bite-size chunks.

Posing the initial question ‘what is fiction?’, Essinger moves on to comment on important areas of writing it, such as voice, character development, villains, suspense, dialogue and language.

Essinger complements his own considerable knowledge, drawn from some three decades as a fiction and non-fiction author, agent and now publisher, with the work of several leading literary lights, Anthony Burgess, George Eliot, Frederick Forsyth and JK Rowling among them. He also references films and filmmakers. At the end of the book are handy appendices, one focusing on common grammatical and spelling errors that writers often make.

There are, of course, other writing guides around, such as David Lodge’s excellent The Art of Fiction, a personal favourite, and Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing. Essinger’s book slots in well – it’s a comprehensive, readable and very practical reference to writing. And, if you’re embarking on this challenging journey, Writing Fiction will provide some handy tips. Recommended.


James Essinger is a professional writer. His non-fiction includes: Jacquard’s Web (2004), Ada’s Algorithm (2013), which is to be filmed by Monumental Pictures, and Charles and Ada: the computer’s most passionate partnership (2019). His novels include: The Mating Game (2016) and The Ada Lovelace Project (2019).



Writing Fiction | James Essinger | Paperback | £9.99 | The Conrad Press | September  2019 |

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Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachels Random Resources and to the publisher for sending a review copy. All opinions are our own. All rights reserved.


Also of interest:Only Remembered edited by Michael Morpurgo‘; ‘Karl Tearney’s healing a “torn mind”‘; ‘Mary Monro’s Stranger in My Heart‘; ‘‘Lisa Ko’s The Leavers‘; ‘20 books this summer challenge‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original Penguin Ten‘; ‘Book covers we love – Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday‘.


This review is © 2019 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.









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